Wait a second, we have been forgiven of all our sin and the Bible tells us to “love the sinner, but hate the sin,” right? Well of course, so why do you say that “Christians love sin?” Let me start off by saying that the Bible actually does not have a verse in it that says to “love the sinner but hate the sin.” St. Augustine has a quote that is similar, but not exactly that; and Gandhi quotes this, but it is actually not in this context. It’s funny, so much of what we hear and see in the world becomes gospel because many of us haven’t actually studied these things out for ourselves. But I digress, on to the point.
Before I became a Christian I was a wild and crazy sinner. The way I lived my life, I knew I was wrong for much of it, but I did “what seemed right to a man” (Proverbs 14:12) and darkness and destruction was the result. By the time I was 31 years old I was on the ground begging God to forgive me and help me change. Something supernatural happened, the presence of God came into my house that night and I was forever changed. I knew that Jesus Christ was Lord. I knew that He loved me at my worst. I knew that I was forgiven. The best part of all for me, was that I knew that I was a new creation. I listened to an audio bible that I had, day and night for several weeks before I stepped foot in a church. I was so happy to know God, all I wanted was to do work for the Kingdom and tell people about Jesus.
Sin was the last thing on my mind. But then I found myself around Christians.
I remember it clear as day, I was excitedly talking to an older man and telling him about my conversion and about all the awesome things God was doing in my life. He was happy for me, but I remember like yesterday, he said “you’ll come back to reality soon.” It was such a hit to my joy. What do you mean I will come back to reality soon? Well, after finding a church and getting around a bunch of men who had been Christians for much longer than me, I quickly found out what he was talking about. So many of these guys “struggle with sin” and many of them looked at me as weird when I told them I no longer did. That I was a saint, and I am free from sin. That I wasn’t perfect but God isn’t focused on my sin, so why should I be? I just wanted to know Him and His will for my life, I don’t have time to even think about sin and even when I do, I thank Him for His forgiveness and I move on. I remember some old guy getting absolutely MAD at the things I was saying. “What are you saying, you are perfect and not a sinner?” The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) The verse he read is in the bible, albeit he was using this verse in a way that is out of context. John isn’t saying we will always have sin, he is making the point that if we see no need for salvation, for the blood of Jesus, because we have never sinned- than we are deceiving ourselves.
The simple fact that I believed the good news, that I was a new creation in Christ, that I had been set free from sin and had become a slave of righteousness, that I was hidden in Christ, that I was predestined to be holy and blameless and above reproach. All of these statements come from the same Bible that this man was reading, but because of what he had learned his whole life and his experience, because it didn’t measure up to what he believed the Bible says and his experience, he found a verse in the same Bible that basically gives him excuse to settle where he was at and to believe the lie that he was still a sinner. So many denominations and streams in the Body of Christ, because of their systematic view of God and humanity and their experience have caused them to believe the lie that we are still sinners. When I read the New Testament, I see that Paul writes to the saints. He never once writes to the sinners. And though sometimes when he is writing a letter to them, it is to correct some of the things they are teaching and/or doing, such as sinning, but he doesn’t say they are no longer saints. He goes out of his way to remind them of what Jesus Christ has done for them. He reminds them that they are clean, so why would they live as though they are still dirty?
Being a Christian doesn’t mean we are perfect, we worship the one who is. And because of all that Jesus Christ did by living as a man, dying on the cross and raising from the dead, we have been made new creations. I believe this is what we should be focusing on. The fact that we are new creations and that Jesus Christ has made a covenant that we take part in by faith. If at our absolute worst Christ was willing to die for us… why do we still focus so much on sin rather than focusing on the fact we are made new?
Jesus says “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.” (Matthew 12: 33) Do you see what I see? He tells us to “make the tree good… and its fruit will be good.” In other words, when we focus on the fruit, whether it is good or bad… we judge them according to what we see, we are told to live by faith and not by sight. I believe we should be telling people that they have been made good trees, which is what produces good fruit.
So many Christians are known for what they are against, not actually what they are for.
So you might see a Christian who is “against abortion,” and telling people that “abortion is murder.” Okay, so what? I am not for abortion at all, I think it is horrible but does telling people that they are murderers and that God hates them for what they are doing actually change anything? I remember a few years ago I knew a Christian man who would do the whole sign holding thing on the corner, standing in front of PP and he was so consumed with anger about all the bad things going on in the world. I couldn’t get him to see the error of his thinking, but I did help him change his perspective a bit. I told him, rather than telling these scared and hurting women that they are murderers and whatnot, do you think you could tell them that “God loves them and their baby.” Maybe a sign that tells them how loved they are, maybe offering to give them a hug, maybe talking to them and finding out about why they are so scared, maybe that is a better way to prevent abortion rather than being an accuser and telling them how evil they are. (He did this for a few weeks and then moved on to another topic that consumed him and caused him much anger).
I look at the life of Jesus and how he would call things that weren’t as though they were, in fact he called Peter a rock before he denied him three times. The entire pattern of God throughout the Bible, when He comes to establish a relationship with people, he gives them a new name. We are told that David is “a man after God’s heart” and look at his life? Many Christians today would look at David and say, “you aren’t saved, look at all the things you are doing.” But that is not the reality. I don’t say these things to minimize sin and its consequences. I say these things because I don’t believe sin is our biggest issue, or at least I don’t think correcting people’s behavior is the solution. If we focus on the exterior problems we will never get to the root, which is that people believe that they are sinners, and if they believe that they are a sinner, what will they do? They will sin. In the church, we need to tell people that they are new creations. That they are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, they have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, how much more can they live victorious and full of peace and joy now. I am not saying that because a Christian believes in Jesus, that they will never have the urge to sin, or they don’t sin. I am simply shifting the focus to Jesus and who we are in Him. Whatever we focus on will get bigger, so when we focus on the “new man” we will start to manifest the things of a new creation. The fruit of the spirit will be more present in our lives.
Christians need to be more known for what we are for, not what we are against. We need to actually be teaching believers that they are more than conquerors, that they are overcomers. We need to speak life into people and encourage them that they are capable of reigning over the old man that didn’t know God. The very fact that they believe the gospel is proof that they are capable because the Holy Spirit lives in them. The world around us needs to know the joy of what it means to walk around as a new creation. The bible says “all of creation is groaning for it.”
Written by: Andrew Strobel